Thursday, December 1, 2011

India debates proof-of-parking laws

An issue to watch. Several Indian states are considering 'proof-of-parking' laws and a central government committee has given the idea a boost.

Some background

Since the 1950s, registering a car in Japan has involved proving to local police that you have access to an off-street parking space near your home. The intention in Japan has always been to make sure its narrow streets are not clogged with parked vehicles. The policy was NOT explicitly aimed at restricting car ownership. A key result has been to create a market for priced off-street parking even in residential areas. There is more detail on Japan's experience in my report for the ADB, 'Parking Policy in Asian Cities'.

Korea's island province of Cheju has also been giving it a try in recent years.

In India, the small, far-east state of Mizoram enacted such a policy last year. Sikkim followed suit and Karnataka has expressed strong interest, prompted by Bangalore's parking problems.

Does anyone have updated news on these proof-of-parking initiatives in Korea and India? 

India's renewed proof-of-parking debate

India's latest debate on this was sparked in mid-October this year by a central government review, the report of the so-called Sundar Committee on the amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Please note that the committee's recommendations have not yet been accepted by the Government of India.

On page 27 of the proposed new version of the Act point 29 (via the Ministry of Road Transport), 'Registration, how to be made'  includes this:
(2) The application for registration shall be accompanied by such proof of parking space as may be prescribed by the State Government.
That's it! This seems to leave all of the details, and whether to do anything at all, to the state governments.

Early reactions

Perspectives on the proof-of-parking suggestion in the Sundar report were diverse.
Via a DNA report:

Nitin Dossa of the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) criticised the Sunder Committee, saying that the recommendations were far from practical. “It is the duty of the government to see to it that enough parking for cars is provided,” Dossa said.

Amardeep Singh Hora of the Responsible Road Users’ Club (RRUC) said, “It is an impractical idea. People will start providing fake proofs of parking. When you don’t even have clear demarcations of parking and no-parking areas on roads, how can such a radical idea be implemented?”

A senior official from the transport department said, “The ratio of vehicle population to the road length in Mumbai is already the lowest in the country. This idea needs to be implemented as it is one of the important ways to control the ballooning vehicle population, which has made commuting on roads such a nightmare.”

Meanwhile, transport analyst Ashok Datar said, “This is a very important initiative. The initiative will help curb the rising number of vehicles on roads. We should not ignore this at all.”
And from another DNA report:

VN More, Maharashtra transport commissioner, said the government wants this clause to be incorporated in the motor vehicles act. More, who was at the meeting in New Delhi, said this would go a long way in solving the city’s parking problem. “Roads are meant for the movement of cars and not for illegally parking cars,” More said. “Cars parked illegally on roads make it difficult for other cars to move freely. In a space-starved city like Mumbai, we should make optimum use of roads.”

What do you think? Is such a policy desirable? Is it feasible? Would it just create new corruption opportunities? Has the debate moved on since October?